Lions and tigers and bears, and they’re all in Apopka…oh my!
You might now know it, but just a little way from us at Wekiva Island, down a tree-lined street and tucked away from the road is a veritable safari. Animals of all types, from tigers and monkeys to racoons, goats and pigeons make their homes amid the trees on the sprawling property.
It’s The CARE Foundation, a nonprofit exotic animal rescue and wildlife education facility dedicated to providing a safe home to non-releasable animals and educating the public on conservation.
As you might guess from the mission, The CARE Foundation is close to our hearts at Wekiva Island. Like us, they share a passion for education and a dedication to protecting our environment, especially the animals that inhabit it. We have been a longtime supporter of The CARE Foundation, donating the hay from our Winter Wonderland snow slide to them for use in their animal cages every year.
Anyone who is lucky enough to visit The CARE Foundation will understand why.
The CARE Foundation was founded in 1996 by Christin Anne Burford. Christin has always worked around animals, even developing wildlife shows with Florida native species in the past. Through her work, she obtained the necessary licensing to work with many exotic species, and she began coming across animals that needed her help and had no where else to go.
It evolved from there, and Christin now has more than 200 animals on The CARE Foundation’s 10-acre property in Apopka. Those animals range from venomous snakes to several tigers (Katrina, Tyrian and Danarus) to monkeys (like Famous Amos, the spider monkey) to pigs, goats, cockatoos and more.
And Christin doesn’t just provide an amazing home for these animals. She also uses them for education, hosting groups on site or taking animals out for visits. During these visits, Christin or her volunteers talk about the needs these animals have, their environments, and their behaviors. For instance, on a recent tour, Christin and a volunteer demonstrated the natural aggression tigers have when they’re enjoying a meal. One minute, Danarus was friendly and happy, but after her system was flooded with adrenaline upon receiving her lunch, she barred her teeth and growled when anyone got close to her cage.
Demonstrations like this serve to give people first-hand experience of the behaviors of wild animals, as well as show why they don’t make good pets for just anyone.
Sharing these animals with people and knowing that she is giving often abused or traumatized animals a good life is what motivates Christin. But it isn’t easy work.
The CARE Foundation is funded entirely by donations and staffed by volunteers. Feeding the animals alone is an undertaking. The big cats currently eat about 1,200 pounds of meat every three weeks, but Christin’s “toddler”—Chimera, a two-parts lion, one-part tiger li-liger—is estimated to go through that much alone as he continues to grow to a more than 500-pound gentle giant.
All that meat needs to be stored in multiple freezers, and cages need constant updates. Often, in the winter, the electric bill can be $600 a month.
That’s why this year, we are proud to say that The CARE Foundation is the organization we have chosen to support at our VIP Party on December 21. All of the proceeds from our silent auction will benefit the organization.
From Kenny Chesney tickets and a Kona Brewing Surfboard to a $150 Christner’s gift card, Andretti Indoor Karting tickets, and much more, there will be so much to bid on at the event—and it’s all for a good cause.
The CARE Foundation has even donated a tour so you can get up close and personal with their amazing animals. Christin will also be bringing some special animal guests to the VIP Party for attendees to meet. Be sure to grab your tickets to this event so you can come out and support The CARE Foundation and learn more about them. We’re proud to be able to give back to an organization we care so much about this holiday season.